Name: Robert Kotabish
Camera: Panasonic AG-DVC7 MiniDV.
Editing SystemPlatform: HP (Windows 7, 64bit) Sony Vegas Pro 9.0 (64bit) and Corel VideoStudio Pro X3.
Microphone: Audio Technica ATR-55 Shotgun mic.
Support Gear: Bogen Manfrotto Pro 3046.
Years ago, a friend of mine told me about his new wedding video business and how he could barely keep up with the requests. This re-ignited some old thoughts about filmmaking that I had. When I was 8 years old, my Dad gave me an 8mm film camera and I produced many short comedies that were satirical attempts at the television shows of the era. They were usually ad-libbed with just an outline to keep things straight. When I view those same shorts forty plus years later, I’m amazed that they were actually pretty funny. I thought I could still do it, so I grabbed a copy of Videomaker at the newsstand and off I went.
I had no formal training, but that didn’t stop me. I took classes where I could and even managed to attend one of Videomaker‘s Summits. I also took a few hit-and-miss overview style courses but nothing with any meat to it. If you’re perpetually short of money, formal training is hard to come by. I started subscribing to Videomaker magazine and found it to be one of my most valuable tools and sources of current information. Online webinars, training summits and plenty of good hands-on training classes were now available.
I didn’t like what I was seeing on television or at the movies. I’m no prude by any stretch, but the unnecessary bad language, overwhelming special effects and poor storylines were killing me. What was passing as hit shows was mind boggling to me. I decided to do something about it and produce my own films and shows. I started small by filming short sketch-style comedies. Rarely did I use or need a crew. I write, produce, film, light, direct everything myself. It has grown to the point where I usually employ a very small crew to assist me on the larger projects. All the projects were learning experiences. Some turned out pretty funny and some are pretty shoddy. Some aren’t very technically sound. What’s the old phrase: practice, practice, practice.
In the years I have been doing this, we have produced two feature films and countless shorts. One of which actually made it to a local cable station. Another called The Star actually won a short film award at a local film festival. I have a blast doing it. The people who have helped me along the way have been great. I’ve made many new friends in the local Indie Film business. I feel privileged to know and work with these people. I also have Videomaker magazine to thank for keeping me current when it seems like twenty-four hours in a day isn’t enough.
I like to think that I’m living proof of someone who is dirt poor but managed to dig around enough to buy, rent and borrow equipment; shooting in basements, garages and local parks; writing scripts by hand until I’m able to obtain proper software; going to thrift stores to acquire costumes and props; listen to what others in the same field had to say, (I didn’t say to necessarily follow that advice, but to listen and to absorb).
I’ve found that I had a lot in common with several local producers. The production problems on and off set were similar. It gives the feel of a small, close circle of friends. The stories are endless and usually hilarious. My advice to anyone just starting who is finding frustrations with the technology – stick with your vision and don’t let others sway your thoughts. Go for it. If I can do it, anyone can.
Robert Kotabish – Self Taught Producer
Sidebar: About This Series
Video creation is sometimes a singular business, but video producers are a social lot. Our curiosity about our readers has inspired us to create this new column to introduce you to your fellow video producers.
Interested in telling us about your video producing passion? Send us profile, in 500 words or less, to firstname.lastname@example.org, using “Reader Profile” in the subject line. Please send us useable photos and tell us about your gear. More details here.